What the Heck is Vegemite (& How Do You Eat It)?

Cut off from the rest of the populated landmass of planet Earth for several millennia, Australia had plenty of time to develop some natural quirks. Take marsupials (pouches, hopping), for example, or the duck-billed platypus (duck-bill, poison spur), o…

Cut off from the rest of the populated landmass of planet Earth for several millennia, Australia had plenty of time to develop some natural quirks. Take marsupials (pouches, hopping), for example, or the duck-billed platypus (duck-bill, poison spur), or the disturbing preponderance of poisonous snakes, for example. But it was with the invention of Vegemite in 1922 that things really went off the rails. What is Vegemite? So glad you asked.

Vegemite is a thick, dark spread extracted from the yeasty waste of the beer-brewing process, seasoned with celery, onion, salt, and some undisclosed extra flavors. Salty, umami-rich, with a hint of bitterness, Vegemite is an Australian obsession. But it wasn’t always this way.

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7 Tomato Paste Substitutes for Pantry Pasta Emergencies (& More!)

Tomato paste is having a moment. Made by boiling down tomato juice into smooth, concentrated form, tomato paste is absolutely packed with umami. Just a tablespoon can transform a braise, stew, or soup, imbuing it with an unplaceable but vibrant richnes…

Tomato paste is having a moment. Made by boiling down tomato juice into smooth, concentrated form, tomato paste is absolutely packed with umami. Just a tablespoon can transform a braise, stew, or soup, imbuing it with an unplaceable but vibrant richness. Knead it into bread dough for a ruby-red pop, or add it to tomato sauce to make it even more tomato-y. The opportunities are endless, but this rich, sweet vermillion substance is just the kind of thing I’m constantly forgetting on my grocery runs. So if you’re staring down a recipe that calls for some paste and need a quick tomato paste substitute, we have your back.

Here are 7 tomato paste substitutes you probably have on hand:

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How to Cook Black Beans for Stews, Burritos & Dips

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to cook black beans. If the idea of beans that don’t come from a can is news to you, I’m not here to judge. We all start somewhere. Even in the U.S., where beans have been cultivated for millenia, there’s …

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to cook black beans. If the idea of beans that don’t come from a can is news to you, I’m not here to judge. We all start somewhere. Even in the U.S., where beans have been cultivated for millenia, there’s been an explosion of heirloom varieties just in the past few years as people move beyond the can. Heirloom bean producers like Rancho Gordo have spread awareness that the variety of delicious dried legumes available is nearly infinite. But when it comes to burritos, I have strong feelings. As much as I love pinto and refried beans, I think a good burrito needs black beans. They’re meaty, and almost mushroomy at the same time, and great on their own. In fact, they’re the beans I cook most often at home. And they’re much, much better when made from scratch. If you’ve always eaten your beans from a can, here’s a simple guide for how to cook black beans.


Black Beans, Explained

The common bean—the species that includes black as well as pinto, kidney, and cranberry beans—was first cultivated in southwestern Mexico around 7,000 years ago. The bean itself is a seed, consisting of an embryonic plant (which becomes the sprout), surrounded by two hard, nutrient-rich leaves called cotyledons, which are in turn encased in a hard, water-resistant seed-coat. Beans are full of nutrients, particularly starch and protein (three times as much as in wheat or rice), and also packed with flavor. Like many other seeds, dried beans are tough, and need some coaxing to transform into the tender, creamy morsels I spoon over, well, everything.

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12 Warming Whiskey Cocktails to Slow-Sip This Winter

Before I’d ever tried a cocktail, I knew my future with whiskey was bright. It was the prom after-party, and everyone was smashed.I, still in my rumpled prom suit, was taking swigs from a full bottle of Laphroaig Scotch I had borrowed from my parents’…

Before I’d ever tried a cocktail, I knew my future with whiskey was bright. It was the prom after-party, and everyone was smashed.I, still in my rumpled prom suit, was taking swigs from a full bottle of Laphroaig Scotch I had borrowed from my parents’ liquor cabinet—I figured they wouldn’t miss it. I remember—just barely—my friend Justin’s dad (hosting on some “chill parenting” or harm-reduction tip) approaching me at the party and telling me, “son, you have good taste in whiskey. All these other kids are gonna have terrible hangovers in the morning, but you’ll be just fine.” With those reassuring words still lingering in my mind, I lay down in the middle of the dining room floor, and passed out.

Ever since this Laphroig-fueled experience, I’ve been a lover of whiskey. Scotch, yes, but also bourbon, rye, Japanese, Canadian, and Irish. Though I will still happily sip a fine whiskey straight or on the rocks (occasionally I’ll even take a swig from the bottle), I now consume most of my whiskey in cocktail-form. As the first snow settles on the eaves, there’s really nothing better than a rich, bone-warming whiskey cocktail or two as you watch the world go by.

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9 Cream of Tartar Substitutes You Probably Have in the Kitchen

Where would we be without grapes? Think of all the culinary marvels the fruit yields: Jelly, balsamic and red wine vinegars, and of course wine. But lofty cakes, ethereal meringues, and chewy snickerdoodles also owe their existence to another child of …

Where would we be without grapes? Think of all the culinary marvels the fruit yields: Jelly, balsamic and red wine vinegars, and of course wine. But lofty cakes, ethereal meringues, and chewy snickerdoodles also owe their existence to another child of the grape: cream of tartar. The white powder is most often found in baked goods, where it serves as a stabilizer, a leavening agent, or a crystallization inhibitor (more on this later).

If you’ve just embarked on some baking endeavor only to find your jar of cream of tartar empty, there’s no cause for alarm. There are plenty of substitutions for cream of tartar, you just have to decide which purpose that sub needs to serve.

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How to Brine a Turkey for the. Juiciest. Bird. Ever.

Thanksgiving was always at our house. Every year, friends, family, neighbors we barely knew wound their way through the fog to our home in the Berkeley hills, bearing pecan and pumpkin pies, sweet potato casseroles bobbing with marshmallows, tureens of…

Thanksgiving was always at our house. Every year, friends, family, neighbors we barely knew wound their way through the fog to our home in the Berkeley hills, bearing pecan and pumpkin pies, sweet potato casseroles bobbing with marshmallows, tureens of green beans, and bowls of guacamole (this last one always arrived with a particularly time-challenged guest after dessert, but was polished off nonetheless).

My father, a vegetarian since his twenties, was for some inscrutable reason in charge of the turkey. A few hours before guests arrived, he’d pull the bird out of its bag of brine (a major Snowden-level leak one November left our fridge permanently frosted in turkey salt) and haul it onto the barbecue. He’d bring out bottles of liquor that had accumulated at the back of our cabinet over the year, and pour them over the bird in their entirety, to dubious effect. There was a lot of head-scratching and bird poking, and eventually he’d decide the turkey was probably done. Someone would take the electric turkey saw to it, and a few minutes later we’d be heaping our plates with steaming slices of miraculously succulent meat.

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How to Make Home Fries, the Superior Potato Preparation (We Said It!)

Passing the gleaming prefab husks of my favorite Manhattan diners these days brings a pang. The exaggerated nostalgia of neon signs and swooping stainless steel, of sprawling, manic menus, is now a sort of memorial to itself. I can practically smell th…

Passing the gleaming prefab husks of my favorite Manhattan diners these days brings a pang. The exaggerated nostalgia of neon signs and swooping stainless steel, of sprawling, manic menus, is now a sort of memorial to itself. I can practically smell the singed, watery coffee as I wander by. But until our favorite haunts return to their timeless, 24-hour routine, we can take advantage of their absence to make some diner classics better—let’s face it—than we could ever find on a foldout menu.

That brings us to one of the great pillars of diner fare—home fries. At their best, home fries are a perfect union of crisped potatoes, browned onions, and grilled peppers. They should be ordered extra crispy, to avoid the tragedy of the steamed, crunchy potato, and should always be topped with a dash or two of hot sauce. We can argue knife skills and varietals—my ideal home fries involve quartered new potatoes, whereas my brother likes a diced russet—but we can all agree that, alongside a diner omelet, with a cup of weak coffee and some good company, this is the perfect breakfast food. And until I can order them at my favorite diners again, I’ll be making them at home.

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11 Great Corn Syrup Substitutes (in Case You Don’t Have it on Hand)

In the U.S., at least, corn syrup is ubiquitous. We mix it into our marshmallows and pour it over our pancakes; we sip it in our sodas and cook it into our caramels. In its high-fructose form, the average American has consumed more than 40 pounds a yea…

In the U.S., at least, corn syrup is ubiquitous. We mix it into our marshmallows and pour it over our pancakes; we sip it in our sodas and cook it into our caramels. In its high-fructose form, the average American has consumed more than 40 pounds a year over the past decade. Light and dark corn syrups, the versions typically used by home cooks, can be found in nearly every supermarket and bodega in the country.

And yet, here you are, in search of a substitute. Maybe it’s for health reasons. Maybe you don’t feel like walking to the store. Maybe you’ve slipped into an alternate reality where Gottlieb Kirchhoff seriously miscalculated the sulfuric acid concentration before taking a sip of his new syrup, and didn’t survive to share his results. If you’ve never heard of Gottlieb Kirchhoff, then that must be it.

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How to Cook Millet, the Ancient Grain You Might Have Overlooked

In the new millenium, grain trends move about as fast as fashion. From 2006 to 2013, as we were shimmying out of our skinny jean fetish and into our bland beige normcore phase, we were consuming quinoa at such an outrageous rate that crop prices triple…

In the new millenium, grain trends move about as fast as fashion. From 2006 to 2013, as we were shimmying out of our skinny jean fetish and into our bland beige normcore phase, we were consuming quinoa at such an outrageous rate that crop prices tripled, making the Andean staple almost unaffordable in its native region.

Maturing into dadcore in 2017, we got obsessed with what we call "ancient grains," and added amaranth and Kamut to the list of old-timers that were suddenly hot. 2019 was undeniably the year of the jumpsuit, and also the year of the farro bowl. Now here we are in 2020, buffeted by an unending string of catastrophes, looking for something starchy to hold on to. This, friends, is where millet comes in.

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11 Butter Substitutes for Your Cooking & Baking (But Only if You Must)

Let’s start with the bad news. There is absolutely nothing on this earth that can truly replace butter. Not the most extra-virginal olive oil, not the most convincingly golden popcorn topping, not even the most optimistically branded substitute spread….

Let’s start with the bad news. There is absolutely nothing on this earth that can truly replace butter. Not the most extra-virginal olive oil, not the most convincingly golden popcorn topping, not even the most optimistically branded substitute spread. If it’s not butter then yes, I can believe it’s not butter. But if you’ve just flipped open the butter door to find yourself staring into the void, don’t despair. With some clever substitution techniques, you’ll be baking, sautéing, or slathering toast without a stick in sight.


What makes butter butter?

Butter, like most good things in life, is an emulsion. Agitate cream enough, and the tiny droplets of butterfat will come together, separating from the watery buttermilk. The result is mostly butterfat, but not all. Butter is typically 15 to 30 percent water, with milk proteins working as an emulsifier (more on these later).

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